Angling for Anglicans: Empty nets?
David Gibson October 21, 2009 - 8:42am
As I caught up on the day-after coverage of the pope's welcome mat/hostile takeover (take your pick) of the Anglican Communion, what remained in my brain were the U.S.-based elements Laurie Goodstein had in the NYT story (with Rachel Donadio):
Bishop Martyn Minns, a leader of that group [the new breakaway Anglican Church in North America], welcomed the popes decision. It demonstrates his conviction that the divisions in the Anglican Communion are very serious and these are not things that are going to get papered over, he said.However, both Bishop Minns and Archbishop Robert Duncan, primate of the Anglican Church in North America, said that they did not expect many conservative Anglicans to accept the offer because the theological differences were too great.I dont want to be a Roman Catholic, said Bishop Minns. There was a Reformation, you remember.In Britain, the Rev. Rod Thomas, the chairman of Reform, a traditionalist Anglican group, said, I think it will be a trickle of people, not a flood.But he said that a flood could in fact develop if the Church of England did not allow traditionalists to opt out of a recent church decision that women could be consecrated as bishops.Some said the move would probably not win over traditionalist Anglicans in Africa.Why should any conservative break away from a church where the moral conservatives represent the overwhelming mass of opinion, such as in Nigeria? said Philip Jenkins, a professor at Pennsylvania State University and an expert in the Catholic Churchs history in Africa and Asia.
The Jenkins analysis (and he would know) seems right, as do the comments from the Anglo-Catholic-Episcopal leaders quoted. Could it be that theology matters more than Benedict et al figured? (Irony of ironies.) Maybe this will remind us that ecumenism is a process, one that is not easily circumvented with even the grandest gestures. But time will tell, as they say.